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"I Wish Toyota Was in the Sub-4-Metre Segment"

Recently appointed MD of Toyota Kirloskar Motor India, Naomi Ishii, is aware of the rapidly growing compact SUV space but is also wary of the market fluctuations

Published: Feb 7, 2014 09:13:01 AM IST
Updated: Feb 7, 2014 02:45:53 PM IST
"I Wish Toyota Was in the Sub-4-Metre Segment"
Image: Amit Verma

Q: Tell us about yourself. You’ve been here for a few months now... What’s your perception of the Indian market?
Ishii:
I was in charge of the mid-to-long-term corporate and business plans on a global basis for Toyota in Japan. When I was doing that I was asked to study and come up with predictions globally from 2017 to 2025. So, my responsibility was to anticipate the future and get the top management consensus on the resources. In the discussion that took place in Japan, India was an obvious market for the long term future. A big market [but] the speed to get here was a bit less compared to our expectations. But the belief does not change. Toyota is a company which doesn’t look at short-term change but at long-term returns because we want to be sustainable. If we find that it is not there, we do not invest. From that perspective, the long-term future of the Indian market is bright. But we have to challenge 2014 in 2015. I think we have hit the bottom. In the end of this year, after elections, we are going to slowly pick up and next year onward, we will start increasing.

Q: Toyota has been in India for 15 years now. How do you assess the company’s performance?
Ishii:
1999 was the first phase when we launched the business. 2010 was the second phase where we expanded with the Etios. The third phase, we wanted to have now... which means we wanted to enjoy the big volumes of Etios, keeping the full capacity active; but it has not happened yet. So my first task is to somehow reach the expected volume which means winning more Etios customers. In order to do that, I want to do many activities.

Q: How did you prepare for the India assignment?
Ishii:
Intentionally, I wanted to bring innocence to the Indian market. Last year the speed of growth of the Indian market was very low [compared to] our expectations, and also our business is not at a satisfactory level. Even sitting outside India, there was a lot of noise coming to my ears. But I decided not to hear. Without seeing it myself, how could I believe everybody? Once I came here, if I found any opportunity I wanted to take that. So, I am enjoying the whole experience.

Q: Have you had the time to travel yet?
Ishii:
Private travel has not yet happened. I have been travelling on business.

Q: Do you see an opportunity in the compact SUV space which has been growing quite well? Lot of other manufacturers have seen that opportunity in India except Toyota.
Ishii:
As you know we are not in the sub-4-metre segment which is huge but competitors are in it. Well, I wish I could have [entered the space] as a new MD of course. But whether the market trend is wrong, I don’t know... because it seems the Indian market is always fluctuating, not only [in terms of] volumes but [also] the duration of new vehicles. This is very small compared to other regions. But before I start shouting that ‘I want this and this model’, I want to get more customers for current models like Etios, Liva and Etios Cross. I want the customer to feel and touch our vehicles and see the Toyota service. That is what I want to do for Toyota with a different approach from [that of the] competitors.

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  • Sudip Raja

    Dear Naomi, If Toyota want to increase more sell and more customer than first you have to take step that please give instruction to your company\'s customer care department that clear all complain of customer. Also Give instruction to your all dealer that they give all information about your companys product with very transparent way. Also your company\'s dealer give product price with 200% transparent way. Also your company give advertisement that our company appoint dealer to sell car not for other product as like insurance , CAR finance etc. Also your company give advertisement that if any dealer forcefully insist to customer for insurance than company will take action against dealer. Also Take step that your company spare - parts available not only at dealer showroom but also available at auto parts shop also. Also in each mega city give dealership of toyota company minimum 2 to 3 different dealer show single dealer not try to monopoly in your product. Sudip Raja City - Gondal Mobile - 9427721997 Dist - Rajkot ( State - Gujarat ) India

    on Apr 12, 2015
  • Anil

    \"I want to get more customers for current models like Etios, Liva and Etios Cross.\" Dear Naomi, I bought a Liva 2 years back, and am quite happy with the performance and space. However, I actively say NO to anyone planning to buy an Etios bcos you have started dumping Etios in the taxi segment. The resale value of this model will hit bottom due to this act. It\'s sad that another biggie Tata made this same mistake for a decade with Indica, and you didn\'t learn the lesson from it. Go for taxi segment but with a separate brand name miles away from your main brand. All the best.

    on Feb 8, 2014
  • Ayaz

    I wish toyota come up with new products like Rush, Avanza, vios, yaris, Hiace, Dyna,

    on Feb 7, 2014
  • Vikas

    Toyota can get more customers if they give better cars. To me and many others, Etios just does not feel like a premium car and Liva is not inspiring hatch. Innova became a commercial segment car. Etios interiors feel dated, (compare it with Swift dezire) and now it earned bad name in market. Best thing for Toyota to do is let go of Etios/liva and launch brand new car with new name and better design interiors.

    on Feb 7, 2014